Adrienne Harris and Steven Kuchuck, eds.
The Legacy of Sandor Ferenczi
From Ghost to Ancestor
Adrienne Harris and Steven Kuchuck‘s The Legacy of Sandor Ferenczi: From Ghost to Ancestor (Routledge, 2015) contributes to the resurgence of interest in Sandor Ferenczi since the early 1990s when Harris published another book also titled The Legacy of Sandor Ferenczi with co-editor Lewis Aron. As Harris says in the interview, the resurgence is partially explained by the work of Steven Mitchell, relational psychoanalysis, and the Vietnam war! War is of particular interest to Harris because it challenges the illusion of intrapsychic privacy and self-containment that traditional psychoanalysis cultivates. War is traumatizing and Ferenczi did not avoid investigating its shattering, splitting, dissociating effects as well as the effects of other disrupting impingements from the external work, in contrast to the classical psychoanalytic emphasis on the elaboration of personal fantasy.
The book contains 17 chapters by historians and analysts, including discussions that help to show how contemporary psychoanalysis was anticipated by Ferenczi’s courageous experimentation. After reading this book, you cannot help but feel profound sympathy for Ferenczi’s painful struggle as he sought to develop an analytic theory and method amid great personal and social suffering. He was not able to escape war or trauma, and as a result he could not avoid coping with how this reality affected his work with patients. His writings about this struggle show us the emergence of a psychoanalytic paradigm that considers the psychology of the analyst as important as the psychology of the patient in therapeutic processes. In addition to the scholarly historical material in the volume, the book contains essays by analysts with clinical material that illuminates how Ferenczi’s two-person psychology unfolds in the consulting room today. These essays demonstrate the liveliness of contemporary psychoanalysis when animated by the spirit of this newly honored ancestor.
Philip Lance, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist with a private practice in Los Angeles. He is candidate at The Psychoanalytic Center of California. He can be reached at [email protected]